Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Year In Review

So TigerBlog was able to get into the eye doctor yesterday, which is good, considering his glasses are broken and essentially unwearable.

The bad news is that his new glasses won't be ready for as much as two weeks, which means that TB will be struggling to see for awhile. This will lead to squinting, which will lead to bad headaches, but hey, you have your own problems.

In other news, TigerBlog mailed two books off to Bruce Wood, the Big Green Alert Guy who wrote a guest entry here a week ago about his interactions with Pete Carril.

To send the books, TB went to the post office. He picked up a large mailing envelope, put the two books inside, sealed it and sent it on its way.

When the envelope got to New Hampshire, interestingly enough, only one book was still inside. The envelope had been taped up but wasn't ripped or anything.

It's just that one book was missing.

What explains this? Seriously. TB has no idea what happened.

He called the post office who said that there was no book in its lost and found and that the package had reached its destination. That didn't really answer any questions.

Hey, but again, you have your own problems.

In still more news, TigerBlog is working on the Princeton Athletics Year in Review for the 2019-20 academic year.

He's done a lot of Year in Review stories, and his favorite part has always been the idea that when any given academic year begins, there's been no way of knowing what the biggest story of that year will turn out to be. 

It's been one of his favorite parts of working at Princeton, knowing that there are 37 different teams and that any one of them in any given year could do something special and warrant being the lead part of the Year in Review.

As you can guess, there was no way in the world that TB could have figured out what the main story of 2019-20 would be when the academic year started. In fact, here's what he wrote for the first sentence:

The 2019-20 athletic year was unlike any that had ever come before it at Princeton University – and Princeton Athletics goes all the way back to 1864.

Even with no championships contested in the spring, Princeton teams won seven conference championships this past year - six Ivy League titles and the ECAC women's hockey championship. The six Ivy champions were: field hockey, women's volleyball, women's basketball, men's indoor track and field, wrestling and women's swimming and diving.

The 2019-20 season will also be remembered for the 500th Ivy League championship in Princeton history. That distinction went to the wrestling team, whose history-making championship also was the program's first since 1986 and the one that ended Cornell's 18-year title run. It came on a spectacular afternoon at Jadwin Gym in February, where the Tigers defeated Cornell in what was very high drama from start to finish.

There were other huge highlights. Among them:

The field hockey team followed up its 7-0 run through the league by reaching the NCAA championship game. The women's hockey team won its first ECAC championship by taking down No. 1 Cornell in overtime. The women's swimming and diving title was the program's first since 2015 and first for current head coach Bret Lundgaard.

The women's volleyball team won its third Ivy title in four years. The men's indoor track and field title was the program's sixth straight.

The women's basketball team went 26-1, won every Ivy League game by double figures and reached the national rankings.

Unfortunately, the 2019-20 athletic year will always be that year, the one when the seasons ground to a halt in March due to the Coronavirus outbreak. The end of athletics in March meant winter teams couldn't compete in the postseason and the spring teams wouldn't get into the meat of their seasons, or even compete at all, in the case of rowing.

For each of the last five years Princeton has won five Ivy League spring championships. The spring is also the season that contributes the most Directors' Cup points on average, and Princeton was ranked 28th without any of the winter championships or spring ones contested.

Also, Princeton 18 nationally ranked teams still competing when the games stopped.

Who will ever know what kind of year this one ultimately would have been? Who knows what successes would have happened in the winter and spring postseasons, even national championship ones perhaps.

It makes the Year in Review an interesting project, that's for sure.

When it came to the lead story a year ago at this time, TB wouldn't have guessed "global pandemic."

Monday, June 29, 2020

Gotta See It

TigerBlog's glasses broke.

He went to clean them off, and snap. Instead of one pair of glasses, he now had two half-pairs of glasses.

TigerBlog can barely see without his glasses. He's not even sure what he's writing right now, since he's trying to get through this without them.

Wait, what did he just write?

TB first got glasses back in the 1990s, when he was in his 30s. He was getting headaches, and he went to an eye doctor. Turned out, his vision was really bad, and the headaches were coming from having to squint to see things clearly.

Since then, whenever he starts to get headaches again, it's sign that he needs to get a stronger prescription.

He's never had contact lenses. He doesn't think he'd be able to touch his eyeball, so why bother. Plus, glasses are so easy. Put them on. Take them off.

Until yesterday, he'd never had a pair that broke. He also doesn't have a backup pair, so getting new glasses is now high on his list of things to do this week.

He does remember when he first wore glasses. They made everything look clear, for starters.

He first got them on the night of a Princeton-Cornell men's basketball game at Jadwin Gym. He remembers this, well, clearly, and not just because he could see.

What really sticks out most for him about that night is that nobody noticed he was wearing glasses. He does remember one person who asked him if he had gotten new glasses, which was sort of an acknowledgement at least that something was different.

That person? Brian Earl, who was then a Princeton player and is, ironically enough, now the head coach of the men's basketball team at Cornell.

Actually, TB's glasses are now being held together by white tape, which 1) makes it at least a little easier to see and 2) makes him look ridiculous. Oh well.

In other news, remember Friday when TB mentioned that the "Top Gun" sequel was going to be released soon and he had seen the trailer? Well, guess what was on TV Saturday night on the IFC channel?

Yes. The original "Top Gun." When TB first got to it, most of the movie was over. Maverick had just decided to attend the graduation, and well, TB doesn't want to ruin it for you if you've never seen it, beyond pointing out that Mav does say "Talk to me Goose" in there.

And now everyone has to wait six more months for the sequel? C'mon now.

If you can watch movies over and over - knowing full well how they turn out - can you also watch games over and over, knowing how they'll turn out too?

TB has watched a bunch of old games of late, mostly old college football games, "old," in this case, defined as pretty much any time in the last 25 years. It's incredible, as TB has said before during this pandemic, how different games from even just a few years ago looked as compared to these days.

The best part of watching old college football game is seeing the players who ended up being impact NFL names. There's always a few in each game.

TB was scrolling through the listings the other day when he came upon a Princeton-Penn men's basketball game. This was on Comcast in Philadelphia, which meant it was going to be a game Penn won.

As suspected, it was. Comcast showed the 2018 game from the Palestra, which Penn won 76-70. As TB has documented a few times, finding a game that Mitch Henderson either played in or coached against Penn where Princeton lost can be difficult.

In fact, this was from January, after Princeton finished a season-sweep over the Quakers:
Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson has an extraordinary record against Penn, as both a player and coach. In fact, the win Friday was his 20th against the Quakers, against eight losses. That's a winning percentage of .714 in games in which he has either played or coached. If you take the rest of the series, all of the games without Mitch Henderson, then Penn leads 122-97, or a winning percentage for Princeton of .443.

Mitch is 15-4 against Penn as a head coach. The only other time Princeton ever won 15 of 19 against Penn in the entire history of the series was back in the late 1950s through most of the 1960s, when Princeton had a run of 21-5, with two 15-4 runs overlapping in there.

As for Penn since 2012, exactly one-quarter of its league losses in that time are against Mitch Henderson-coached teams. That's a pretty good run by Mitch.

As for the game from 2018, TB decided not to watch.

And now, until he gets his glasses fixed, he couldn't see it even if he wanted.

Pete Carril always talked about the importance of being able to "see it." TB hopes to return to being able to do so today.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Talk To Me Goose

Wait, there's a "Top Gun" sequel?

How come TigerBlog didn't know this until he saw the trailer yesterday?

This is either going to be awesome or awful. There is nobody who will see it who will say "eh, it was okay."

TigerBlog saw the original in the movie theater in 1986. He's also seen it about a thousand times since on TV. Well, maybe not a thousand times, but enough times that he can essentially recite it.

In case you're wondering why Tom Cruise is one of the top movie stars ever, consider that the original "Top Gun" cost $15 million to produce and then earned $358 million. That's what Cruise can do to a movie.

The sequel, by the way, cost 10 times as much to make, at $150 million. That's a lot for a movie these days.

The release date for the sequel, officially entitled "Top Gun: Maverick," was supposed to be today, June 26. Instead, it's been pushed back to December because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What will movies be like post-pandemic? Will people go back to sitting in crowded theaters? Will this movie be released directly to Netflix or Amazon.

Anyway, Cruise was perfect as Maverick. He got ripped off for the Best Actor Academy Award that year, which went to Paul Newman for "The Color of Money." That was sort of a lifetime achievement award, so it's hard to get too mad at that.

Of course, Cruise wasn't even nominated. Nor was the movie, except in one category: Best Original Song, for "Take My Breath Away," which it at least won.

You know what other movie from 1986 didn't get much respect at the Academy Awards? How about "Hoosiers," which was not nominated for Best Picture and didn't get a nomination for Gene Hackman for Best Actor.

Should these be like drafts in the NFL and NBA, where someone goes back a few years later and says what should have gotten nominated, or who should have been chosen where?

TB, for one, is now excited to see "Top Gun: Maverick." Of course it'll be predictable, and the trailer confirms that. But it'll be the good kind of predictable.

The only question: Will Cruise at some point say "talk to me Goose?"

So while the subject is the year 1986, what was going with Princeton Athletics back in 1986?

The Tigers won eight Ivy League championships in the 1985-86 academic year, six on the men's side and two on the women's side. The Ivy champs that year:
men's golf, men's lightweight rowing, men's indoor track and field, men's outdoor track and field, men's swimming and diving, wrestling, softball and women's volleyball.

The 1985 football season was a tough one for Princeton, who came very close to taking the Ivy League championship.

Penn was the 1985 champ at 6-1, followed by a second-place tie between Princeton and Harvard at 5-2. The Tigers defeated Harvard by the rather interesting score of 11-6, a score so bizarre that it got TB thinking he needed to investigate this a little more.

How do you get to 11? Three field goals and a safety? A touchdown, two-point conversion and field goal?

Give TB a second to look this up...

... okay, he's back. It was a lot wilder than TB would have guessed.

In fact, every point in the game came on special teams. Harvard led 6-3 (two field goals to one) late into the fourth quarter, when a bad snap on a Crimson punt looked like it might give the Tigers the ball inside the 10. Instead, the Harvard punter decided to knock it through the end zone for a safety, which was a pretty heads up play considering the score and time (only four-plus minutes to go on a day when the offenses had done little and Doug Butler, one of the Ivy's all-time best quarterbacks, struggled to a 12 for 36 day for 121 yards).

As it turned out, the ball barely made it out of the end zone, as Princeton almost fell on it for a touchdown. Instead, it was now 6-5 Harvard.

All the Crimson had to do was free kick the ball away and play defense one more time. After Harvard chose to kick off a tee instead of punt, Princeton's Rob Urquhart scooped up the ball and took it back 75 yards for the winning touchdown.

Pretty wild stuff, right?

Unfortunately for Princeton, the Tigers had lost 17-0 to Brown earlier in the season and then lost 31-21 in a showdown against Penn the Saturday after the Harvard game. Princeton had led that game 21-0 in the second quarter.

TB remembers it well; he covered that game while still in the newspaper business. That was 35 years ago this fall.

He did not cover the Harvard game that year, which was in Cambridge. He didn't realize it was that crazy until just now.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Guest TigerBlog - Big Green Alert Talks Pete Carril

TigerBlog is always interested in what others have to say about pretty much any issue related to Princeton Athletics. The Guest TigerBlogs are always entertaining, and TB loves to see the perspectives of those who want the floor.

Today's guest entry comes from Bruce Wood, whom you would know as the Big Green Alert guy. Bruce has covered Dartmouth athletics since before TB first came to Princeton, and the two have developed a good friendship over the years. There have been a lot of games they've both covered, both in Princeton and Hanover.

Today's guest entry belongs to Bruce:

The recent TigerBlog column about Pete Carril’s most memorable quotes got me thinking about both the first time I saw the great man on the sidelines and the last.

The first was as a fan on March 13, 1976, when I traveled from New Jersey to Providence, R.I., with a car full of friends to watch the Tigers take on Phil Sellers and the undefeated Scarlet Knights in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. My buddies were all relieved when Rutgers escaped with a 54-53 win over Armond Hill, Frank Sowinski and Barnes Hauptfuhrer. Me? I kept it to myself on the long drive back home but I was a disappointed Princeton fan after the front end of a one-and-one that might have given the Tigers the win rimmed out with four seconds remaining.

Pete and I would chat briefly about that game two decades later.

As the beat writer covering Dartmouth sports for the Valley News I was on press row at Jadwin Gym on Feb. 23, 1996 for what would be the final Princeton-Dartmouth game of Carril’s storied career. With players like Sea Lonergan, Brian Gilpin and Kenny Mitchell, this was one of the best Big Green teams I would write about, but once again on this Friday night it was simply no match for the NCAA-bound Tigers led by Steve Goodrich, Sydney Johnson, Gabe Lewullis and Mitch Henderson. I remember like it was yesterday the tremendous difficulty Dartmouth had putting the ball in the basket that night and giddy Princeton fans chanting as halftime approached, “No double figures. No double figures.”

Dartmouth escaped that ignominious fate to close out the half with 16 points but never challenged in a 65-39 loss.

After getting lost briefly in the bowels of Jadwin Gym after the game I made it to the press room and asked Carril about shutting down a usually potent Dartmouth offense. He wasted no words explaining what we had all just seen. “They have defendable players,” the old coach said, “and we defended them.”

I was on deadline and unlike TigerBlog I’ve never been a fast writer. But while I needed to grab a desk and get to work on my story that would have to wait. I had always regretted as a grad student in journalism at Penn State not standing and applauding after the final class with the best professor I ever had, who was retiring that spring. While I wasn’t about to publicly clap for Carril, who I knew was approaching the end of a long road, I wanted to tell him quietly and privately how much I appreciated everything he had taught us about the right way to play basketball.

So I pulled him aside and thanked him the way I wished I had that journalism professor years earlier.

Before I ducked out of the room I told Pete that I was at the 1976 Princeton-Rutgers tournament game and given how the bracket broke I’ve always believed his team would have taken the Scarlet Knight’s path all the way to the Final Four that year.

Carril sighed and said, “I’ve always thought so, too.”

Not a classic Carrilism, but one I’ll never forget.



Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The MacBean Family

Jeff MacBean was a very consistent and tenacious midfielder for the Princeton men's lacrosse team in the 1990s.

He was a key member of two NCAA championship teams, assisting on the game-winning goal in overtime in the 1994 final and then finishing his career as a second-team All-American on the 1996 NCAA champion.

MacBean had the good sense to hug Jesse Hubbard after Hubbard's game-winning goal in overtime of the 1996 final. That's because the picture of the two of them ended up on the cover of Lacrosse Magazine, and now all these years later, the magazine is doing a "where are they now" series on people who were on previous covers.

Because of that, the Lacrosse Magazine people reached out to TigerBlog for some information about MacBean's career. MacBean finished his career with 40 goals and 49 assists, not to mention 115 ground balls.

In short, he was the kind of winning player that NCAA championship teams needed.

When TB looked back at the scoresheet from the 1996 final, there were some things he remembered pretty much exactly and others that he'd forgotten. For instance, he did remember that Princeton went up 12-9 after scoring three goals in a seven-minute stretch from late in the third into the fourth and that Virginia tied it with three fourth-quarter goals, in a span of little more than four minutes.

TB did forget that Don McDonough tied Hubbard with a team-best three goals on the day. He did remember that Virginia's Michael Watson was unstoppable, with five goals of his own, to earn Most Outstanding Player honors (TB thinks it was voted on before the OT).

The 1994 and 1996 NCAA finals did have a lot of similarities. Both games were at Byrd Stadium at the University of Maryland. Both times Princeton defeated Virginia. Both games went to overtime.

Both times Princeton won the OT face-off (though UVa fans will doubt that statement to this day). Both times Princeton won on that first OT possession.

Both game-winning goals were scored by Princeton's No. 16 (Kevin Lowe in 1994, Hubbard in 1996). Both of those goal-scorers are now in the US Lacrosse National Hall of Fame.

Actually, so too is Watson, the UVa star. TB has never met Watson, but he's relatively sure that it still bothers him that Princeton won both of those games - especially after outshooting the Tigers 44-33 in that 1996 game. Pancho Gutstein, by the way, came off the bench to make eight saves while allowing five goals in 28 minutes for Princeton to earn All-Tournament honors.

TigerBlog looked on YouTube to see the game-winning goals from those two games, but he could only find the 1994 one. That was the one where MacBean took the ball behind the goal and found Lowe up top, where Lowe had all the time in the world to get his shot off.

It's interesting that Lowe was the goal-scorer and not the feeder, since Lowe is one of the great feeders ever to play.

As for the 1996 game, the assist on Hubbard's goal came from Lorne Smith, himself a first-team All-American midfielder.

Princeton lacrosse has won nine NCAA championships between men and women. Of those nine, more than half - five - were decided in overtime. Princeton is 5-1 in overtime NCAA championships games, including 4-0 for the men.

Think about how much different Princeton men's lacrosse history would have been had those four overtimes gone the other way.

Also, the average margin of victory in Princeton's non-OT NCAA wins is four goals for the women (12-7 over Georgetown in 2002 and 10-7 over Maryland in 1994) and 11 goals for the men, who defeated Maryland 19-7 in 1997 and 15-5 in 1998.

No men's team has ever won an NCAA final by more than 12 goals.

Back at Jeff MacBean, he was not the only member of his family who was a championship athlete at Princeton.

His father Scott was a member of the 1969 Princeton Ivy League football championship team. He was also the first T-formation quarterback in Princeton history, as the Tigers didn't abandon the single-wing until after Dick Colman left following the 1968 season.

MacBean, the father, was a 1969 first-team All-Ivy League selection.

That's a pretty good Tiger father/son duo.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Get The Picture

TigerBlog was talking to Shelley Szwast yesterday.

If you're seen a picture of Princeton men's or women's hockey or men's or women's lacrosse in a home game in recent years, there's an excellent chance it was taken by Shelley.

In fact, during the overlap between the two sports, Shelley is something of a fixture for weekends at a time in both venues. There are even times where three and possibly even all four teams are home in the same weekend.

So what did Shelley say yesterday? That she missed the days of shooting give games in a weekend.

That's how it is for the people who work in college athletics. They get swamped during the year, especially when it's crossover season, but when they certainly have missed it these last few months.

Heck, they miss it during a normal summer.

Shelley is an outstanding photographer, especially for someone who is a photographer as mostly a hobby.

TB has worked with a lot of photographers in his time at Princeton. The person who has taken by far the most pictures of Princeton athletics all these years is Beverly Schaefer. In fact, TB would go so far as to say Beverly has seen more Princeton athletic events than anyone else in the last 20 years.

There have been a lot of really good pictures taken of Princeton games through the years, by many different photographers. Some photographers who have turned out to be great ones - such as Patrick Tewey and Brian McWalters - have just emailed out of nowhere to see if Princeton needed pictures at a certain event.

The photography process has changed a lot since TB first began, but the bottom line is that a great sports photo is still a work of art. The need for quality pictures has also changed dramatically.

Back when TB first started, the main need for pictures was for media guides. Because almost every picture used back then was black-and-white, almost no games were shot with color film.

Oh year. Film. This was before digital photography. When photographers shot games, they'd have actual film to load in their cameras, and when a roll of film was done, it had to be developed.

This required sending the film to a company that the Office of Athletic Communications had a deal with, a company in West Windsor called the Leigh Photographic Group. There was delivery person who would come and get the unprocessed film, and then a few days later a bunch of negatives would appear.

Then it would be up to the OAC contact to go through the negatives and find the pictures that appeared to be usable - appeared to be, that is, because until prints were actually made, there was no way to be 100 percent sure.

So then the next step was to get prints made. And the picture that you thought was perfect on the negative turned out to be blurred, or it wasn't even who you thought it was, or something else that made it unusable. That was frustrating.

Or worse, you had the absolute perfect picture, but it was black-and-white, so you couldn't use it for the media guide cover.

Of course, none of that takes into account that to the picture then had to be sized to a certain percentage to fit a certain space in a publication and then sent over to campus printing to be scanned. TB spent a lot of time riding around between Leigh, Jadwin and campus printing (which was then in the Forrestal campus) in those days.

Today the need for photography can't possibly keep up with the demand, thanks to the advent of social media. The challenges are, as TB said, much different.

These days, and for the last 15 years or so, everything has been digital. The quantity of pictures has skyrocketed, since it's so easy to shoot and then forward them.

The Princeton Athletics Twitter feed started a contest yesterday to choose the best picture of the 2019-20 academic year. The contest will continue for a month, as the 33 pictures that represent all of the programs gets whittled down to the winner.

Make sure you check it out. It figures to be fun.

Monday, June 22, 2020

A (Fathers') Day At The Beach

TigerBlog has been a father for a little more than 23 years now.

Before he gets to that, he has a story from his last few hours before he became a parent for the first time. It was around 3 am, a few hours before TigerBlog Jr. made his first appearance. It was time to head to the hospital, and when TB went to close the garage door, he caught one of his fingers between the pieces that snap together as the door shuts.

It hurt. A lot.

What TB learned is that in a maternity ward, nobody cares about a dad's finger, no matter how swollen it got. There was just no sympathy coming his way.

What the heck?

The first five years of being a parent are the longest. Actually, make that the first two or three years. Each moment in a baby's life needs to be supervised, and that makes each day stretch on for an eternity- broken up only by those glorious times that every new parent cherishes, nap times.

Even laundry with a baby isn't easy.

When you do your laundry, you have big pants, big shirts, big socks. You get the idea. With a baby, you have to fold five onesies for every one of your own t-shirts, and there is no shortage of onesies to wash when you have babies.

TigerBlog had never changed a diaper before he had children. He thinks it took him around 20 minutes to do it the first time, and then about 20 seconds for that diaper to fall off.

By the time he was done, he could change a baby in less than 30 seconds. He had it down to a science.

TB was thinking about what it was like to have little kids yesterday, which happened to be Fathers' Day. He thought about his Princeton colleagues who have their own little kids, and what it's been like for them the last few months.

For those who have grammar school kids, it's been a spring of home schooling, and that couldn't have been easy. For those who have pre-school kids, it was sort of business as usual, minus any kind of child care, which always made for at least a bit of a respite once kids were old enough.

And those who have both? Bless their saintly souls.

TB is glad he never found himself in that situation. He also hopes that it doesn't happen ever again for anyone.

For TB, Fathers' Day 2020 featured a trip to the beach with his daughter, Miss TigerBlog ’22. It's both of their favorite places, or at least one of their favorites, along with lacrosse fields and Broadway theaters.

To get on the beach, by the way, they had to log on to a website at 7 am to grab one of 500 day passes made available.

As they sat there, they happened to pick a spot that was surrounded by little kids. It made TB nostalgic for the days when his own kids were young and they'd go to the beach.

These little kids had boundless energy, and they had parents who didn't. It's a mismatch really, as the parents are just hoping to bring back the same number of kids they brought, even if it's not necessarily the ones they came with (just kidding about that part).

MTB spent most of her time stretched out on a blanket, or in the water. She required no supervision, which allowed TigerBlog to do what he loves, which is to sit in a beach chair, look out at the water, smell the salty air, put his feet in the ocean.

And, of course, reflect. On this day, the main topic was, appropriately enough, fatherhood. Being a father is an amazing thing.

There have been a lot of ups, a few downs (TBJ lost three retainers within two months, for instance) and a whole lot of pride.

His daughter is a member of the Princeton women's lacrosse team. As with every Princeton athlete, she took her own road to becoming a Tiger. In her case, that included her first school experience at the U-League Nursery School, which is across the street from the Jadwin Gym parking lot.

As like any other father of any other Princeton athlete, TB takes a great deal of pride in seeing his daughter compete here. And to have the experience she's having.

TB saw the social media posts from the various Princeton teams wishing all the Tiger dads a Happy Fathers' Day. They were sweet and they were cute, but for TB, they were something much deeper.

He can relate first hand to what it means to be one of those Tiger dads, and it is amazing.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Congratulations Lloyd

When TigerBlog learned yesterday that Lloyd Brewer is retiring, the first thought he had was that he can never remember even once having had a negative interaction in any context with him.

If you don't know who Lloyd Brewer is, he's spent the last 21 years as an assistant coach with the Princeton baseball team. That's 21 years of nothing negative, and that's a pretty good record.

The Princeton baseball record during his time is also impressive.

Princeton won six Ivy League championships and nine Gehrig Division titles (back when there were two divisions in Ivy baseball and softball) while Brewer was with the program. Princeton also sent a ton of players to professional baseball and seven to the Major Leagues, including World Series champion Chris Young and current New York Yankee Mike Ford.

More than just the wins and the great players, Princeton baseball has been a close-knit and loyal group. That family feel has always started at the top, with head coach Scott Bradley and Brewer at his side for 21 of his 23 years.

Bradley spoke about his longtime assistant on yesterday's Princeton Department of Athletics Zoom staff meeting. He talked about his loyalty and commitment to Princeton, how he took the job when it paid next to nothing, how devoted he was to maintaining Clarke Field.

More than anything else, though, he talked about his love of baseball, how he just loved to be out on the field, working with the guys. It's that love of the game and of Princeton's players that drove him all those years.

It's not always easy being an assistant coach.

Many assistant coaches look at what they do as a necessary stepping stone to the ultimate goal, which is being a head coach. Not all will make it that far. In fact, most won't.

College athletics are filled with assistant coaches who have made move after move in hopes of moving up. Some give up all together and find something else to do.

It's a grind. Recruiting is almost always ongoing. Player development is essential. More and more there are responsibilities off the field, with alumni relations, fundraising and even social media content production.

It's not always for everyone.

Then you have to factor in the part about checking your ego at the door. The head coach is the one who gets the glory when the team wins. The head coach is the one who talks to the media. The head coach is the one who wins Coach of the Year.

The assistant coach? The head coach would be nothing without a good one. But there isn't always a lot of glory in it.

There's also the fact that the head coach and the assistant coach don't always see eye to eye. Recruit that kid or the other kid? Run this offense or that offense? Put out this batting order or that batting order?

The head coach has the final say.

Princeton has had several assistant coaches who have lasted longer than 20 years, but not many. TB can think of a handful off the top of his head, and he apologizes right now knowing that he's overlooking some obvious deserving ones.

But there was Ron Celestin in women's soccer. David Metzbower in men's lacrosse. Neil Pomphrey and Richard Hankinson in squash.

And of course, the longest tenured Princeton assistant coach, football's Steve Verbit. The man they call "Verbs" has been with the program for more than 34 years now, working with four different head coaches and hundreds of players.

Bob Surace, by the way, fits in both of those categories. He's a former player during Verbit's time, and he's the current Princeton head coach.

As for Lloyd Brewer, he was also a Princeton fixture for a long time, albeit under one head coach. Like most longtime assistant coaches, he probably had the chance to go after head coaching jobs through the years. Instead, he stayed at Princeton, putting his value and values on the program.

TB traveled with the baseball team to Lafayette, Louisiana, for the 2016 NCAA regional. It is one of the very best events he's seen in all of his time at Princeton, and he's very glad he was able to be a part of it.

That regional is the only time he's traveled with the baseball team. It was a great look inside the program, how Bradley runs things - and how valuable Lloyd was to him.

So now Lloyd has stepped away. He's a grandfather now, and he's put in his time at Princeton. He deserves his time now.

And he always deserves congratulations for a job well done.

As TB said, head coaches cannot win without top assistant coaches. Finding ones like Lloyd Brewer sn't easy.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Hall Of Fame Ballot

TigerBlog was looking at the names on the ballot for the next class for the College Football Hall of Fame, and there were three names that really jumped out at him.

The first two were Tony Gonzalez and Julius Peppers.

Perhaps you know them best from their long NFL careers. Gonzalez played 17 seasons in the NFL, and he has more receptions than any other tight end ever. In fact, he trails only Jerry Rice and Larry Fitzgerald all-time in NFL receptions by any player.

Peppers, like Gonzalez, played 17 NFL seasons himself. That's an extraordinary record of longevity in a sport that isn't know for it.

In fact, out of their combined 34 seasons, the two had 23 Pro Bowl appearances between them.

Peppers played in one Super Bowl, with the Carolina Panthers, falling to New England 32-29 on a late field goal.

Gonzalez is already in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Peppers is a lock when he becomes eligible.

For TigerBlog, though, he will never look at either of those guys without thinking about their time as college basketball players. More specifically, he thinks about their time as college basketball players who helped knock Princeton out of the NCAA tournament.


For Gonzalez, it came in 1997, when he played for California against Princeton in Winston-Salem, N.C. Princeton had gone 24-3 in the regular season and 14-0 in the Ivy League under first-year head coach Bill Carmody, and the Tigers earned a No. 12 seed, matching them with fifth-seeded Cal.

The game was also Thursday at noon. Cal would win 55-52, as Gonzalez went for 13 points and five rebounds in the game. By 2:15 or so, Princeton had been eliminated, before the energy of the tournament really began.

TB remembers the empty feeling he had standing in Princeton's locker room after that game because the tournament had come and gone in a blink for the Tigers.

TB also went to the NCAA games in Charlotte the next day and back in Winston-Salem that Saturday before watching Princeton-North Carolina men's lacrosse that Sunday.

Princeton's leading scorer against Cal by the way, was Mitch Henderson, who scored 15 points on 7 for 9 shooting. He also had five assists in 38 minutes.

Then there was Peppers. That was in 2001, in John Thompson III's first season as head coach.

Princeton was 15 seed that year, matched with No. 2 North Carolina in New Orleans. This time the game wasn't all that close, as UNC built a 20-point halftime lead and then won 70-48. Peppers had 12 points, five rebounds and three steals in that one.

Those were two of the names from the ballot that jumped out at TB. The third was Keith Elias.

It's great to see a Princeton player on the ballot, especially Elias. If you never got to see Elias play, he was as exciting as it gets.

Elias is Princeton's all-time leading rusher with 4,208 yards and all-time leader with 49 rushing touchdowns, and his 299 yards rushing against Lehigh are also the school record. He was also a two-time first-team All-American who had a six-year NFL career of his own.

There wasn't one time when Elias touched the ball where TB didn't think he was going the distance. There are just some athletes who have that electric quality about them, and Elias most certainly was one of those.

Beyond that, he's also one of those people who just take over the room simply by walking in. He had it in college, and he still has it now.

Elias is one of the two best players TB has seen play at Princeton, along with John Lovett. They dominated in different ways, but they were always the focus of everyone in the stadium at all times they were on the field.

It's good to see Elias on the ballot for the Hall of Fame. There are a lot of names on the ballot form all divisions, and may of them are really familiar ones to college football fans, as you would expect.

Hopefully though whoever is in charge of choosing the ones who get in will understand the impact that Elias had on Ivy League football and how deserving he is of being included.

He certainly gets TB's vote.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Riding For Derek, Again

Digger was getting emotional.

It's not something he usually gets. He usually gets determined. He usually faces situations heads on, with a courage that is impossible to miss.

TigerBlog has seen him connected to an IV that was dripping chemotherapy into his veins, and he took it completely in stride. If anything he joked about it.

So when TB says that he saw his friend Digger get emotional, it's something that really stands out.

This was early Saturday morning, at the home of Charlie Thompson, Princeton's head athletic trainer. The occasion was the Million Dollar Bike Ride, which is 2020 was vastly different than it had been in years past.

Were it not for the pandemic, the event would have been in Philadelphia. And it would have been earlier. Instead of 8:30 at Charlie's house, it would have been 6:30 in Philadelphia.

And the 20 or so people who were at Charlie's house would have been in Philadelphia at 6:30, no questions asked. Or 4:30 in the morning. Or 11 at night. Or whenever Digger asked them to be.

The Million Dollar Bike Ride is part of the effort that Digger - whose real name is Steve DiGregorio - and his family have thrown themselves into as they attempt to do anything they can to combat the rare disease of Ataxia Telangiectasia, something that affects one in 300,000 people. One of those people is Derek DiGregorio, the middle son of Steve and Nadia.

Derek turns 23 soon, and he's been fighting this fight for nearly all of that time, as has his family, and his extended family, one with very deep Princeton Athletics roots.

The bike ride is only a small part of that effort. In fact, the DiGregorios have left no stone unturned in this battle, one that has seen them raise money and awareness, all while racing against an unforgiving prognosis for Derek.

Not that you could ever tell that from talking to Derek. His spirit has never wavered either, and if he can't inspire you with his courage, then you are uninspirable, if that is a word.

A lot has changed since the last bike ride in Philadelphia last June. There was the pandemic of course, which made it into a virtual ride this year. Participants ride in teams, all representing different orphan diseases, and unlike the ride in Philadelphia, this time those teams could ride wherever they wanted.

And then there was Digger himself.

If he wasn't busy enough and tested enough, now all of the sudden he had his own health crisis, one involving a bout with cancer. Digger fought that one hard (TB witnessed a few chemo sessions first hand) and now seems to have gotten past it.

And there he was Saturday morning ready for the bike ride. Before he sent the group out on the road, he said a few words - and it was there that he started to get emotional.

He spoke about how no matter what stage of cancer treatment he was at, he told his doctors that he would be riding come June. And he was right.

As for the ride itself, it's usually an option of 13 or 34 miles. Charlie has a 17-mile loop that he does from his house, so it became 17 or 34. Or some fractions of that, depending who you were.

TB ended up doing the full 34. He was one of five riders who did so, along with Charlie, football Senior Associate Head Coach Steve Verbit, former Princeton women's basketball player and assistant coach (and one-time Ivy League Player of the Year) Addie Micir and former Princeton assistant football coach and current Dartmouth assistant Don Dobes.

At various times TB found himself riding with that group, or with former men's basketball player Howard Levy, or former Princeton baseball player Ted Deutsch. The ride allowed plenty of time to talk, about anything and everything, especially about current events.

When the riding was over, it was back to Charlie's backyard and a socially distanced reception. Derek was there too, in his usual manner of laughing, joking, making fun of people, being made fun of himself - all the usual 23-year-old stuff.

It was nice for everyone to be together, especially given the isolation that has defined this spring.

Pandemics notwithstanding, though, the DiGregorio family is never going be defined by isolation.

This is a family that is never alone. This is a family with way too much spirit, way too much determination for that.

Once again TigerBlog found himself in awe of them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Title Streak

Judging by the feedback, everyone seemed to enjoy the Pete Carril quotes yesterday.

TigerBlog figured he'd give you one more before getting started today.

Princeton was playing in one of those in-season tournaments, the ones that were a lot more common back when Carril was the coach. It was the Saturday when it ended, and Princeton had played in the early game that night.

The team had left the arena and gone back to the hotel. TB was still there for the second game and to get his stuff done.

Before he left, he was given a trophy for the Princeton player who had been named to the all-tournament team. TB then took it back to the hotel and found Carril and the other coaches in the hotel bar.

TB gave one of them the trophy and said that it was for the player who made the all-tournament team. While the other coaches said something along the lines of "that's nice," Carril, without ever looking up, said this:

"So did the guy he was guarding."


Actually, if TB wanted, he could come up with 20 more stories just like that one.

The point of all this is that Carril has always been exactly what his reputation is. He's a philosopher of sorts, with a no-BS mentality and a way of cutting right to the chase. It's also why he was so good at developing players.

It's what appealed to all of the recruits who came through his office. You can read about that in the "Journey to Jadwin" stories that are about players who played for Coach.

They all say basically the same thing, and that is how much that honesty and directness touched them. It made them want to be the best possible player they could be, and so they signed up for four years of it.

If you look back at the Carril years, he won 13 Ivy League championships in 29 years as Tiger head coach. He took over for Butch van Breda Kolff for the 1967-68 season, tying Columbia for the title his first year (before losing in the playoff for the NCAA bid) and then winning the outright championship and reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time a year later.

Penn would win every Ivy title from 1970-75, but Carril still won the NIT in 1975 in one of the best moments in program history, back when the NIT was played completely in the Garden and when it was still a pretty big deal.

Princeton went 14-0 in the Ivy League in the 1975-76 season and won again a year later. That 1976 title started a run that saw every Princeton men's basketball class except for one win at least one Ivy League championship between then and when Carril retired in 1996.

In fact it would be more than 10 years after Carril retired that the streak would end.

It reminds TB of the men's lacrosse run. If you played men's lacrosse at Princeton in any class from 1992 through 2004, you won at least one NCAA championship.

The football team currently has such a streak going.

The announcement yesterday of the Princeton football Class of 2024 included a note that every recruit who has played for Bob Surace in his 10 years at Princeton has won at least one Ivy League championship.

That's very impressive.

That streak is guaranteed to continue through at least the Class of 2022. There is, of course, nobody in the football program who wants that to be enough, and so the goal was to put together another top recruiting class to match the ones that have preceded it.

Putting any faith in recruiting services is always risky. On the other hand, Hero Sports, a website that knows a great deal about FCS football, didn't rank the Ivy League schools in their top recruiting classes list but if it had, it would have, according to its own words, had "Princeton first by a mile."

The Tigers also have 22 of the top 500 individual players, as well as seven of the top 100.

Princeton's incoming freshman class has 31 players in it. They represent 18 states, including five from New Jersey and three from California and Texas.

The incoming class announcement featured a video put together by TB's colleague Cody Chrusciel in which Cody sat down with Surace to talk about the new players, position by position. The video includes an introduction from each player, as well as highlights from their high school careers.

You can see it HERE.

Monday, June 15, 2020

The Best of Pete Carril

TigerBlog received a comment Friday after his story about Steve Goodrich and the time that Pete Carril said that Goodrich "had good shooting range, just not very good making range."

The commenter said that when TB one day puts together the all-time greatest Pete Carril quotes, that will be on it.

Well, TB did put that list together once, and he still has it on his computer.

In fact, for today, he figured he'd share it with you, since there's some great stuff on it. He'll call it something of a guest TB.

Some are funny. Some are poignant. All of them are directly quoted from Coach and were either heard directly by TB or copied and pasted out of a newspaper or magazine story.

"What good is it if you wear a flag and play like a dog? What good is it if you put a yellow ribbon on your porch or flag on your lawn and cheat on your taxes? That young guy who was killed today, he can never be replaced. All the dreams and aspirations his family had for him, they're gone. How can there be any way to balance that except for every person in this country to do the best he can to honor that hero? Maybe it's far-fetched to think that someone on the front line is concerned whether our guys go to class, but I think that's part of what they're fighting for. That if our students don't do everything in their power to keep their commitments to their parents, they're letting the whole country down. This kid who died over there today, what are you doing in your left to make sure you're worthy of him? - February 20, 1991 on the subject of putting flags on uniforms during the Persian Gulf War.

"I'll take that up with God when I get there." - March 17, 1989, when asked if he felt that either Kit Mueller or Bob Scrabis was fouled by Alonzo Mourning in the final six seconds of Princeton's 50-49 loss to Georgetown in the NCAA Tournament.

"It's like you feel when you realize that one number knocked you out of the lottery jackpot." - September 1989, talking about the same game.

"Light bulbs, that's what I call them. Light bulbs. There's an intangible feeling a coach and a player have that you can delight in. When Armond Hill was at Princeton and he'd go up and down the court in warmups, that's excited me. Frank Sowinski walked onto the court in practice. I could be dead tired: I saw him, I felt good. Billy Omeltchenko. Craig Robinson. I call them light bulbs. They walk on the floor, the light goes on." - February 6, 1991.

"Nature is indifferent to the plight of man." - After a 1974 loss at Penn.

"Winning a national championship is not something you're going to do at Princeton. I resigned myself to that years ago. What does it mean, anyway? When I'm dead, maybe two guys will walk past my grave. And one will say to the other 'poor guy, never won a national championship.' And I won't hear a word they say." - February 3, 1990, after winning his 400th game.

"All I ever wanted since I got into coaching was to get the best from every kid I had. And I have not improved one bit in that respect. I will never be able to understand that. But that's what you stand for. A guy who gives you less than what he can give you is one, telling you what he thinks of you and two, telling you what he thinks of himself. And in both cases, it's bad. Now that's old fashioned talk, but I don't think that's ever going to change for me or for anybody." - January 19, 1982, on how his coaching philosophies had changed with time.

"Some people like General Patton. I like General Grant. The Spartan way of life isn't for everybody." - 1983.

"Passing is a lost art. Everybody makes such a federal case today about a team player because there's a scarcity of it. Greed is a reason. You have to understand the influence of greed. The great economic teachers of our time have never given consideration to greed. I once got a low grade in economics because I said there wasn't enough sociology in economics." - 1976.

"Look at all the things you have to do to win. You have to sublimate your individual greed for the sake of the team. You have to conform to certain training rules that deny you the chance of having as much fun as your friends are having, You are asked to provide total mental concentration. All those require a great deal, whereas losing requires absolutely nothing." - 1976, before Princeton played Rutgers in the NCAA Tournament.

"The hardest thing in the world to do is to do one thing particularly well for a long period of time at whatever standards you establish. Take the doctor who delivers his first baby. That's a huge thrill. Does he, 30 years later, get the same thrill. Or did Rex Harrison after 1,000 performances of My Fair Lady?" - 1986.

"I want my centers to behave like Bill Russell." - 1972.

"God blessed me the day that kid walked into my life." - 1991 on center Kit Mueller.

"If you got a C on your report card, he wouldn't let you play. He taught me that it's very important to do what you're supposed to do. When you reduce your standards, they turn around and attack you." - 1981, talking about his father's influence.

"We pass, we cut, we shoot the ball well and we look for good shots. The main thing is to get a good shot every time down the floor. If that's old fashioned than I'm guilty." - 1991.

"This is a tough school. Kids ask me how they can compete with the quality of student here. I tell them don't. You compete with yourself. It's what you do versus what you could do that counts. Life or basketball, it's all the same." - February 20, 1990.

"I think, when I'm not in this world, I'll have a nice talk with God. I'll ask, 'Why did you do this to me? Why pick me out for this? What did my grandfather do?' We've had a couple games like this. It makes you question what's going on up there." - February 6, 1990, after Penn's Hassan Duncombe tipped in a missed foul shot to steal a 51-50 win.

"I'm going to start putting Xs and Os on this board, and I'll move them around with the greatest of ease. But when you put a person in place of an X or an O, he might not be fast enough or strong enough or willing enough to get the job done. I want a kid who goes ahead and does what he knows has to be done, who doesn't give himself an excuse to fail. If a guy misses five shots in a row, will he have the intestinal fortitude to take the sixth shot? Me, I want a kid who'll take the sixth shot." - January 7, 1980.

"So much depends upon their attitudes. What kind of guys are they? Do they love to play? Do they understand what we're trying to do? Do they realize what the word 'commitment' means? Do they understand teamwork? Do they realize they have to be responsible to each other? All those things - I call them the life parts of the game - goes into it. The technical parts of the game are affected by the life parts. What kind of guy is he? Because no matter what you do, the most important thing is who's doing it. You can make almost anything work if the right guy is doing it." - October 13, 1994.

"People forget 45 seconds is an awful long time. It's hard to hold the ball that long. It's hard to hold it for 35 seconds. I voted for the 45 second clock. I'd vote for 35 seconds and I'd still play the same way. I've been playing that way for 37 years. Under 35 seconds, I wouldn't go for. Under 35, the last vestiges of cerebral aspects of the game would disappear. Without that, what's the sense of playing. There's got to be something left for the head to do." - 1989, before the shot clock was lowered to 35 seconds.

"These are tough times for a pessimist." - 1991, while Princeton was en route to a 14-0 Ivy League record and a No. 17 national ranking.

"This is one of the happiest days of my life." - March 9, 1996, after Princeton defeated Penn in the Ivy League playoff; five days later Princeton would defeat UCLA.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Goodrich's Journey

The first sentence of the current "Journey To Jadwin" profile of Steve Goodrich are these:

"112 games, 112 games started."

To that, TigerBlog could add "110 games that he saw in person."

TigerBlog was there for every game Goodrich played in his four seasons at Princeton except for two - the game in December of 1994 at UMass and December of 1995 against Fresno State. TB missed those games after the deaths of his mother and grandmother.

Other than that, TB saw every one of them.

If you were going to pick a college basketball team to be the athletic communications contact for, you couldn't really do much better than Princeton during the Goodrich era.

Led by its big man, Princeton would win the Ivy League titles in his last three seasons and twice win games in the NCAA tournament. Some of the greatest moments in Princeton history were in those three seasons, including the win over Penn in the 1996 Ivy playoff, the win over UCLA in the first round of the 1996 NCAA tournament, a 28-0 run through the Ivy League in 1997 and 1998 combined and a national top 10 ranking in 1998.

When TB thinks back to all of the great moments he's experienced at Princeton, being a part of those basketball teams is way, way, way up there.

Goodrich was a three-time first-team All-Ivy League selection and the 1998 Ivy League Player of the Year. He was also an All-American his senior year.

He remains the most recent Princeton men's basketball player to do two things: 1) play in the NBA and 2) be a first- or second-team Academic All-American. That's a good combination.

Goodrich played in 21 career NBA games with the Bulls and Nets. He also had a long career playing in Europe professionally. His NBA career points total in 24, which might not seen like a lot but hey, he can always say he scored points in the NBA. That's something only the elite of the elite of the elite get to say.

When he started to read the Journey To Jadwin piece, TB immediately thought he'd tell his colleague Elliott Carr, who wrote it, about the quote Pete Carril had about Goodrich. Then he saw it in the story, so he didn't have to.

From the story:

Plans were for Goodrich to play as a power forward at Princeton, but six weeks into his freshman year he was switched to center. When asked about it, Carril provided a quote for the ages that Sports Illustrated used as its Quote of the Week. “Somebody said ‘you’re switching Goodrich to center, is it because he doesn’t have the shooting range?’ He goes ‘well yeah, he has the shooting range. What he doesn’t have is the making range.’ I was the ignominious quote of the week six weeks into my freshman season.”

TigerBlog can vouch for that. He was there when Carril said it.

He was also there when Carril was asked by a reporter about Goodrich's being named an Academic All-American. Carril basically said this: "He has a 3.8 grade point average. He'd be better off with a 3.6 and a little more work on his jump shot."

Goodrich was part of an incredibly close group of players from his time at Princeton, a group that included current Tiger head coach Mitch Henderson, Brian Earl, Gabe Lewullis, James Mastaglio, Sydney Johnson, Chris Doyal and Darren Hite.

His class, the Class of 1998, spanned the final two years of the Carril era and the first two years of the Bill Carmody era. Because of their overwhelming, and high-profile, successes, the team drew a ton of media coverage in those years, especially from major newspapers throughout the country.

TigerBlog spent a lot of time coordinating those interviews, and he always heard the same thing after each of them: "Those guys are great."

And they were. All of them.

Even to the very end, they were the exact kinds of guys you wanted representing you. For Goodrich, that end came after an excruciating second-round NCAA loss to Michigan State in Hartford in 1998.

When it was over, Michigan State was first in the postgame interview room. As the Spartans spoke, TB and Goodrich stood on the other side of a screen, just a few feet away, able to hear everything they were saying (it was all very complimentary).

It was a tough spot for any athlete to find himself - a brilliant career, over just like that, and now he has to face a room filled with reporters asking him, inevitably, how he feels, how does it feel, what did you think of the game, that kind of stuff.

TB was standing next to Goodrich, who was sitting on a screen, facing away from the screen. TB remembers that Goodrich was more angry and frustrated than he was sad. He wanted to say something to him, but he wasn't exactly sure what.

Then, when it was Princeton's turn, Goodrich went to the stage and answered every question. Afterwards he headed back to the locker room, and TB was standing in a hallway when a sportswriter who had written one of those stories a few weeks earlier came up to him and said Goodrich "was great" in how he handled everything.

TB remembers a few things from that day 22 years ago more than the others. He remembers the poor start to the game. He remembers the three-pointer that Mateen Cleaves drained in front of him in the final minute to break the Tigers' backs. He remembers standing next to Goodrich before he went on the stage. And he remembers the "Goodrich was great" comment in the hallway.

Goodrich stood 6-10 but was incredibly soft-spoken. He had a quiet laugh. He oozed confidence. He was extremely polite. He walked slowly away from the court but was ferocious on it.

As TB said before, he was lucky. He got to be the athletic communications contact during those years.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

High Energy From Crista Samaras

TigerBlog got a message the other day asking what Tayor Simmers' number was when he played lacrosse at Princeton.

TB immediately responded "6"

Why does he know that still, especially considering Simmers graduated in 1994 after winning two NCAA titles and being named an All-American? He has no idea. He just does.

It actually got him thinking about other random players through the years and if he could remember their numbers, from all different Princeton teams.

For instance, he was trying to remember which of the Willis twins from the women's soccer team during the run to the 2004 NCAA Final Four was 6 and which was 9. He's pretty sure it was Janine at 6 and Rochelle at 9. He could be completely wrong.

Also, the men's basketball team in 1990 often had 00 (Kit Mueller), 11 (Sean Jackson), 22 (George Leftwich), 33 (Matt Lapin) and 55 (Matt Eastwick) on the court, though 35 (Matt Henshon) usually started. You'll have to trust TB that he can still tell you their high schools as well.

A fun thing to do is to go into the Princeton men's basketball archives and click on the links to the box scores for games when Kit Mueller was the team's center. TB did that on the 1990 game against St. Joe's (he covered that game all those years ago), and Mueller had the typical 22 points, eight assists, 40 minutes line that he normally had.

Also, three players went 40 minutes in that game: Henshon, Leftwich and Mueller. Leftwich had his own typical line, with one turnover in those 40 minutes.

Princeton won 62-47. That game was played in the Palestra, by the way.

When TB saw that Crista Samaras was going to be one of the featured speakers during the virtual CoSIDA convention, he signed up to hear her speak. CoSIDA, by the way, is the national organization for sports information directors. TB has never been to one of its conventions, and this was supposed to be in Las Vegas, where he has never been.

He has watched some of the sessions online this year, though, and they've been pretty good.

When he saw Samaras was to speak, he tried to remember her number at Princeton, which he thinks was 29. He texted women's lacrosse coach Chris Sailer, who coached Samara in the late 1990s. She said she thought it was 29 also.

As an aside, Samaras cannot be TB's favorite No. 29 in Princeton women's lacrosse history. That's the same number Miss TigerBlog currently wears for the Tigers.

Oh, and she's also done ESPN+ color commentary for Princeton women's games.

Samaras graduated as the all-time leading scorer in Princeton women's lacrosse history with 270 career points. She held that record for nearly 20 years, until Olivia Hompe broke it. Samaras is still in second place.

She also scored to Hompe in goals scored at Princeton, with 189. She was a three-time All-American and a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year, after winning the Ivy League Rookie of the Year award as a freshman.

TB remembers Samaras as a very high-energy player during her days at Princeton. If anything, she is even more high energy these days.

Samaras is a force of nature, and that was obvious from the first seconds of her talk to an audience of more than 300. Had she been in the same room with everyone else, she would have fed off of their energy. Instead, she had to do that in despite being the only one in the room at the time, which is not easy to do.

Samaras has done just about everything in lacrosse, from coaching at Yale and Richmond to building a huge club program to designing lines of lacrosse clothing. Listening to her speak, it's easy to see why she's been so successful.

Now she's the CEO of Brave Enterprises, and she spoke about issues related to the psychologies of fear and braveness, especially as it relates to young people. She also spoke about the 1997 season, when she had to take a year off from Princeton because of her academic record and what impact that has had on her.

In fact, the talk was remarkable for its willingness to be open and honest about her own shortcomings and issues in her life. It was refreshing to hear someone talk that way.

It was like watching one of the training scenes in a "Rocky" movie. Her energy fueled everyone watching it, and when it was over, it left you wanting to run up the steps of the art museum.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

From 1888 Baseball To Home Run Hitting Pitchers To 1990s Princeton Basketball

TigerBlog's story yesterday about ’ol Ulysses Mercur and the game he pitched against Columbia in 1888 drew an interesting comment.

Ulysses went nine innings in that game, if you missed it yesterday, allowing 10 runs on six hits while striking out. He also homered in the 10-6 victory. Time of game: two hours.

The comment mentioned another game where a pitcher also homered. This was from a little more recently, though nearly 50 years now, back to June 23, 1971, when Rick Wise threw a no-hitter and hit two home runs for the Philadelphia Phillies in a 4-0 win over Cincinnati.

Wise remains the only pitcher ever to hit two home runs in a game where he threw a no-hitter. TigerBlog has tried to find a reliable list of home-run hitting pitchers, but he's not confident that he found one.

He does know that Tony Cloninger once hit two grand slams in a game that he pitched for the Braves. He also had an RBI single, giving him nine RBIs in one game - as the pitcher.

It seems that the career leader in home runs by a pitcher is Wes Ferrell, who hit 37 as a pitcher (and one as a pinch-hitter) in his 15-year career with six teams (his career record was 193-128). The active leader in career home runs by a pitcher appears to be Madison Bumgarner, with 19.

When you think of pitchers as home run hitters, the first person you think of - or at least TigerBlog thought of - was Babe Ruth. Most people think of him as an outfielder for the New York Yankees, but he also had a career record of 94-46 with a 2.28 ERA as a pitcher with Boston when he first came up.

He wasn't much of a strikeout pitcher, with 488 career K's in 1,220 innings. Still, 94-46 is pretty good, and he had seasons with 23 and 24 wins in 1916 and 1917. Ruth won 89 of those games with the Red Sox between 1914-19 and then was 5-0 with the Yankees the rest of his career.

Ruth hit 59 of his 714 career home runs with the Red Sox. TB saw one stat that said only 14 of those came as a pitcher, and he hit 29 for the Red Sox in 1919, which then was the Major League record, in his only season there as an outfielder. Still, in that same year, he did go 9-5 and pitch 133 innings.

If Babe Ruth, by the way, had spent his career as a pitcher and had kept up at the basic pace he was at in Boston, he would have probably reached 300 career wins. He also would never have approached anything close to the legendary status he did, largely because he was the first player who was known for his ability to hit long home runs more than anything else.

In fact, have you ever heard of Roger Connor? No you haven't. It's okay to admit that.

It was Connor, though, who held the Major League record for career home runs before Babe Ruth. Connor hit how many? Yes, he hit 128 before he stopped playing in 1897 - and his record stood for 23 years before the Babe smashed it.

When the subject turns to Princeton baseball and home-run hitting pitchers, the first person TB thinks of is Mike Ford, the current New York Yankee who hit 12 home runs in 143 at-bats last year in his first Major League season.

Ford is the only player to win the Ivy League Player of the Year Award and Pitcher of the Year Award. He hit in the games he pitched, and his coach, Scott Bradley, is relatively certain that he homered a few times in games that he pitched.

Meanwhile, back at Rick Wise, TigerBlog looked up the box score from that game in 1971, and one thing really stood out to him - the number of future Major League managers who played in that game.

From the Phillies you had Larry Bowa and John Vukovich (who has the lowest career batting average of any player with at least 500 at-bats at .161). From the Reds you had three: Tony Perez, Pete Rose and Hal McRae.

That Reds lineup, by the way, was not an easy one to no-hit, with Rose, George Foster, Lee May, Johnny Bench, Perez, McRae, Tommy Helms and Dave Concepcion.

The fact that so many future managers were in the same game reminded TB, of course, of Princeton men's basketball in the 1990s.

The team that Princeton started against California in the 1997 NCAA tournament had three future Division I head coaches on the floor: current Tiger head coach Mitch Henderson, current Cornell head coach Brian Earl and former Princeton and Fairfield head coach (and current Air Force associate head coach) Sydney Johnson.

For that matter, the last coaching staff that Princeton under Pete Carril had a staff of three future Division I head coaches - Bill Carmody, Joe Scott and John Thompson III. The staff under Carmody included another future college head coach - Howard Levy.

Anyway, TB went from a baseball game in 1888 to Princeton men's basketball in the 1990s. It doesn't make for an easy headline, and he's not thrilled with what he came up with, but hey, where else can you get stuff like this?

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Today In Princeton Athletics History

It's not the toughest question on the American History test to name the two father/son combinations that have been President of the United States.

John Adams and John Quincy Adams. George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

You probably also know that Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt were related, though it's unlikely that you know that 1) they were fifth cousins and 2) Eleanor Roosevelt was actually Theodore's niece. Also, the Roosevelts were marginally related to two other Presidents, Martin Van Buren and Zachary Taylor.

There's also one other piece of Presidential family trivia. Can you name the only grandfather/grandson combination to both serve as President?

TB never knew they were related. He would have gotten that wrong.

The answer is William Henry Harrison (who was President for 31 days before dying of pneumonia) and Benjamin Harrison.

The younger Harrison was a rather fascinating guy, one who was a Union General during the Civil War before winning the Presidential election of 1888. He defeated Grover Cleveland, who 1) would then win it back four years later and 2) is buried in Princeton.

Harrison won the 1888 election despite not winning the popular vote, making him one of five Presidents so elected. The first two were, by the way, John Quincy Adams (he gets two mentions in today's blog) and Rutherford B. Hayes.

Not to get way too far off track here, but the election of John Quincy Adams in 1824 came after none of the fourth candidates received more than 50 percent of the electoral votes, which meant that the election was thrown into the House of Representatives and each state got one vote. It was there that Quincy Adams defeated Andrew Jackson 13-11, with help from former candidate and House Speaker Henry Clay, who convinced state that had supported him to vote for Quincy Adams, who then made Clay his Secretary of State. This little piece of history is known as "the Corrupt Bargain."

Why bring any of this up now? Well, it's just interesting.

Also, TB was brought back to the year 1888 by something he read about Princeton's baseball team. In fact, it was from a baseball game played on this date, June 9, 1888.

Why were they still playing games in June? Not sure. Was school still in session? Maybe just the weather was good?

In fact, back then, there were games played throughout June. TB wishes he had an academic calendar from those years to see when class started and ended, or even when Commencement was.

Princeton had a long tradition that had just started of playing a baseball game against Yale on Commencement Day, but it's hard to tell which day that used to be, since the teams played several times each season.

Anyway, that game on this day in 1888 was actually against Columbia. Princeton won 10-6. According to the box score, the game was played in exactly two hours.

The winning pitcher was Ulysses Mercur, who had the rather impressive line of nine innings pitched, six runs, 10 hits and eight strikeouts. Mercur also homered in the game.

When was the last time a pitcher in the Major Leagues had a line like that?

Mercur was a senior in 1888 (did they call them that back then?), and he was a four-year starting pitcher for the baseball team. That game against Columbia was his last win; he would start one more game, one week later, and give up six first-inning runs in a 15-5 loss to Yale in the fifth game the teams would play that season.

Ulysses would go from Princeton to a career in law and later in insurance. He would live to be 81 before passing away in 1948.

His father was a four-term U.S. Congressman who also would serve as the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Anyway, that's a little history for today. It all started when TB dropped his "Athletics at Princeton" book and had it fall open to page 179. It was there that he saw that Princeton had played a baseball game on this day 132 years ago today.

TB is into that kind of historical thing.

If nothing else, it makes you wonder what that game must have looked like.

Monday, June 8, 2020

OAC Class Of 2000 Reunion

One of the two best practical jokes that TigerBlog has ever been a part of was back in high school, when his friend Chris decided he wasn't going to register for the Selective Service, something that was required when you turned 18.

There was no draft or anything. Just a requirement to put your name on the list for an accounting of how many potential draftees there could be if needed.

Chris, though, was going to be a quasi-revolutionary - until he received a fake letter from the Army (written by TigerBlog) saying that if he didn't register by 14 days from the date of the letter, he'd be subject to arrest, fines and imprisonment. Then TB dated the letter 14 days earlier and left it out for Chris to find on his counter.

Needless to say, within the a few seconds of reading it, Chris panicked and sped to the post office to get his name on the list.

That was a good one.

The other one came in the Office of Athletic Communications. It was in the fall of 1999, and the Princeton women's basketball team was scheduled to go to a tournament called the Paradise Classic in Honolulu the week before Christmas.

The women's basketball contact at the time was a woman named Jenn Garrett, who came to Princeton from South Carolina. Jenn was very excited about the upcoming trip - until she heard it had been cancelled and a different tournament had been scheduled in its place for the same week in December. This was shortly before Princeton was supposed to go to Hawaii.

The last-minute replacement tournament? The Cleveland State Snowball Classic.

If Jenn was skeptical about this, it vanished when she received a fax from Cleveland State asking for quick facts for Princeton women's basketball. This set Jenn off on a rant in the back room of the Office of Athletic Communications, back when it was still on the Jadwin balcony.

Jenn's Southern accent, usually so polite and charming, instead was overtaken by a barrage of expletives directed at anyone and everyone. Then, once she was good and angry, the truth was brought up - she was the victim of a practical joke, perpetuated by her OAC colleagues and the women's basketball staff, with a little help from Cleveland State sports information.

It was great. Once she realized she'd been had, she smiled her big Jenn smile, pointed her finger at everyone in the room and announced "I'm gonna get y'all, and y'all, and y'all."

Then it was off to Hawaii.

Now, more than 20 years later, that moment remains one of the highlights of TB's tenure at Princeton. In fact, that whole two-year stretch in which Jenn worked there, along with her fellow interns Craig Sachson and Matt Ciciarelli, TB, then-Associate AD Kurt Kehl and then-publications director Mike Zulla, remains one long continuous highlight.

The OAC world was different then. The structure consisted of two-year internships that were extremely low paying but did come with free housing, which meant that the interns worked together and lived together. The apartment was in the old Hibben-Magie complex, more specifically in 5T Magie.

It was a two-year stretch of training, learning and developing skills for recent college grads, and the OAC record of placing them into full-time jobs at other schools after they left Princeton was impeccable.

Those two years - the 1998-99 and 1999-2000 school years - saw the advent of goprincetontigers.com and changed the way athletic communications at Princeton worked. Those three interns had personalities that meshed immediately; they combined the high-quality work they did with an ability to make each day fun - and that made for a great two years.

If the name Craig Sachson is familiar, that's because it's the same Craig Sachson who left for Cornell for two years and then returned to Princeton for 17 more.

It was last week that TB received a text message from Kurt Kehl saying there was going to be a reunion Zoom of that OAC group, organized by Zulla. TB didn't get the invitation directly from Zulla,  but Kurt did forward the message, which asked if anyone had TB's contact information. This amused TB, since he is the only one of the group who still had the same contact info, but hey, at least he got the invite.

And so the group - plus Chuck Yrigoyen, who formerly worked at both Princeton and the Ivy League office before becoming the commissioner of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference - reconnected Friday. Chuck always had an innate way of making the day a bit better anytime he walked into Jadwin.

It's hard to believe that neither he nor any of the others other than Sachson have spent much time there in a long time.

The Zoom invite said it would last 45 minutes. It ended up going just short of three hours.

To say it was great to see everyone goes, well, without saying. It was exactly what you would have expected, a combination of "what are you doing now" and "how are the kids" with "do you remember when ..."

It was a very long laugh-fest, including the memories of the practical joke on Jenn. In many ways, it was like stepping right back into the days when the group all worked together.

In many ways, it was also like what it's like when former Princeton teammates get together. This was a group of people who worked hard together on the same goals, a mix of very individualized personalities from very different backgrounds who unite under the common banner of Princeton University.

They grew together professionally and personally (Ciciarelli, for instance, fixed Sachson up with his now-wife on a blind date), and they've gone in very, very different directions since their time together at Princeton ended. In fact, TB is the only one still working in college athletic communications, and he and Chuck are the only two still in college athletics.

They will always, though, have their Princeton time together, and they will always cherish what that time meant and still means to them.

The call Friday night was just further proof of that.

It was great to see them.

Friday, June 5, 2020

A Ray Of Hope

There probably aren't that many people in this country who will be sad to see this week finally end.

TigerBlog has been in contact with people across every area of the political, social and racial spectrum this week, and he's heard the same words from all of them. Scared. Tired. Drained. Uncertain.

Who can blame any of them?

Where has there been to turn of late for anything resembling escape?

When TB first started out in the newspaper business, he got into a bit of a disagreement with his mother and brother over something small. That was nearly 40 years ago (and he was right the whole time, by the way).

Anyway, it turned into something bigger than it should have, and he felt like they were being unreasonable. Or at least weren't listening to him.

This was before email, before cell phones, before any other way for him to communicate with them other than on the phone, and so he was able to end the conversation by saying he had to go because he had a game together.

And then he went out to cover a high school football game. This was between two really bad teams, one that would finish the season winless and the other whose lone win would be in that game that day. These were also teams who would be ranked in the top five in the state in tennis, but TB isn't quite sure those things are connected.

Anyway, one bad team beat the other bad team 7-6. What TB remembers most about that day was the way the game gave him an escape for a few hours.

He's never forgotten that feeling, and he's relived it several times since. Many times, actually.

Where has the escape been lately?

Netflx? Amazon Prime?

Old games on TV?

So much of society has just stopped on a dime for so many months now. Into that already unsettled and unprecedented situation exploded the national conversation about race.

It's not wonder people are feeling the way they are.

TB has always thought that sports have done more to bridge racial and political divides than pretty much any other societal endeavor. Fans of a team come together to root for that team, and during the course of their mutual support, differences are forgotten.

Does it solve any problem long term? No. But does it help in its way? Yes.

And that help also hasn't been there the last few months.

Maybe, though, that's a good thing this time. If things are really going to change, if there really is going to be progress made on racial issues after all these years, then having an escape is a bad thing. Having the ability to step away, to hope that things get back to comfortable, won't make any of those changes happen.

That's if the country is truly committed to change and making things different.

It's been an uncomfortable week, to be sure. And into that discomfort walked Elijah Barnes, a Princeton men's basketball player, as a ray of hope and light.

Barnes, a Jersey Shore native, has been very involved in the protest movement that has sprung up. His approach has been a peaceful one, and his message is a clear one.

There was a story in the Asbury Park Press about Barnes and his efforts. It's a tremendous piece, definitely worth your time.

You can read it HERE.

Here are two quotes from Barnes that really stand out:

“If you’re posting on social media, posting a black square on your account, I respect what you’re trying to do, I respect that you want to be a part of it, but if you’re going to be a part of it I would like to see you sign a petition for George Floyd, donate money, walk around arm in arm with me. If you’re not going to stand up outside of posting something on your social media, are you really making a difference?”

And this one:

“College coaches and these major sports franchises have an obligation to speak up and stand up for black men. You have the lives of young black men in your hands. You have an opportunity to give them an education, a good job, change their lives, get their families out of certain situations. My coaches have been adamant about reaching out to me and asking me what they can do to help. I really appreciate it. College coaches have to do more than just a press release.”

The whole story is like that, and it's very much worth reading.

And that's where TB will leave it for this week.

Next week he'll be back to Princeton Athletics in this space. This week wasn't really the time for that.

Sports have always been a great diversion for him.

This week, though, wasn't about diversions. It was about a lot of things - none of which can be hidden from any longer.